How bad is this “mildly dangerous” cult? And what’s their connection to near-death experience scienc

#21
I'm not supporting scientology, eckankar, TMI or Rajneesh. But I simply don't know enough about these organizations/people to support or bash them.

I can't form an opinion based on one person's "thesis" or some youtube videos. Real life is often times a lot more complicated than that. I'm not going to support them, but I'm not going to go off on a rant about how evil they are either.

Buyer beware. If you get involved in these organizations keep your eyes and ears open.
You're not going to base on opinion on them when people are being threatened and abused? This is real life -- making death threats, breaking into people's homes, theft, wire-tapping, physical and sexual abuse, financial abuse are kind of red flags. There's plenty of information on Scientology, Eckankar and Rajneesh or his rebranding as "OSHO" to come to the conclusion they are abusive cons. It's not just one person's "thesis" or a couple of YouTube videos.
 
#23
You're not going to base on opinion on them when people are being threatened and abused? This is real life -- making death threats, breaking into people's homes, theft, wire-tapping, physical and sexual abuse, financial abuse are kind of red flags. There's plenty of information on Scientology, Eckankar and Rajneesh or his rebranding as "OSHO" to come to the conclusion they are abusive cons. It's not just one person's "thesis" or a couple of YouTube videos.
Are you equally as vehement in condemning:

Ghandi:
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-e...the-truth-about-gandhis-sex-life-1937411.html
Mother Theresa:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2008/05/mother-teresa/
The US Military.
The Catholic Church.
 
#24
You're not going to base on opinion on them when people are being threatened and abused? This is real life -- making death threats, breaking into people's homes, theft, wire-tapping, physical and sexual abuse, financial abuse are kind of red flags. There's plenty of information on Scientology, Eckankar and Rajneesh or his rebranding as "OSHO" to come to the conclusion they are abusive cons. It's not just one person's "thesis" or a couple of YouTube videos.
Have you ever listened to any of the OSHO recordings? Many of them are sublime.
 
#25
First let me say that I enjoyed you describing how an observer might look at your Hare Krishna 'conversion' - haha great stuff Alex.

I'm a member of a local spiritual group, it's run by eckankar followers, a man and wife. There are always pamphlets and stuff available and they always mention eckankar in the intro, but that aside I really can only say nice things about them. The thing is, if they were any bit pushy about joining then I would stop going. I am instinctively nervous of any such 'religions' or 'cults' or whatever. When I realised that they may have 'other agendas' I researched Eck and didn't like what I read.

I see IANDS as being vulnerable to such groups, to me the whole NDE thing has lost its 'virginity' and has been taken over by ego and agendas. It is sad but it is the way it would obviously go given the growth in mainstream interest over the past few years, that is how I see it anyhow. It gets more difficult to find videos without some typical sickly sweet music lately, a Venus fly trap for naive fly's.

I am very aware of the 'new age' luvvies, often genuine people but I see them as naive and vulnerable. Am I being fooled too? Who knows, I for one would be nervous about allowing eckankar in - but it's too late anyway.

There are many genuine NDEs to be found in video or written format, it's just a shame that they are harder to find among the sickly music and the fundamentalist preachers who are just as blind as any materialists out there.
 
#26
Let's face it, almost all religions (not sure if that includes the US military!) seem to become really debased. They have also ended up suppressing ψ exploration because it might question their dogma. I think organisations like IANDS would do well to keep clear of such people.

David
 
#27
Yes, absolutely. Why wouldn't I? People need to get the facts and not the sugar-coated image presented. But these people and organizations know that image is everything, and most people would rather accept the illusions over the cognitive dissonance when facing uncomfortable truths. As Dr. Ring showed, people will get angry when the facts don't line up with their dogma or precious organization. If people can't be objective and face the actual facts and data, they have no business in IANDS if they want any scientific credibility.
 

Alex

Administrator
#30
I am very aware of the 'new age' luvvies, often genuine people but I see them as naive and vulnerable. Am I being fooled too? Who knows, I for one would be nervous about allowing eckankar in - but it's too late anyway.
thx for this. I get what you're saying. I previously shared how a close friend of mine got really pissed at me (told me I was crazy and engaging in hate speech) because of my series on Christianity (he's Catholic). your post reminded me how similar these situations are. It's easy to all nice and spiritually enlightened when your cherished beliefs are not being challenged.
 
#31
thx for this. I get what you're saying. I previously shared how a close friend of mine got really pissed at me (told me I was crazy and engaging in hate speech) because of my series on Christianity (he's Catholic). your post reminded me how similar these situations are. It's easy to all nice and spiritually enlightened when your cherished beliefs are not being challenged.
As this paper by Kenneth Ring demonstrates (http://www.newdualism.org/nde-papers/Ring/Ring-Journal of Near-Death Studies_2000-18-215-244.pdf ), this is nothing new for IANDS. When you read the history of the organization, they started out with such noble goals. They wanted to study an interesting phenomenon and go where the data took them. Then there was this sudden popularity in the media with NDEs... and the Mormon church tried to take over influence of the organization. Until I read that paper, I had no idea about that. This thing with Eckankar is just a rehashing of a situation that gets repeated every time there is a resurgence of interest in NDEs by the media. Unfortunately, the people at IANDS haven't learned a thing from all this history.

It's very difficult to get an NDE memoir published. Major publishing houses won't touch them until they are packaged as self-help books... essentially "I talked to god, and I'll share his wonderful secrets to the best life possible"... so who publishes all those NDE books? Religious organizations do. Eckankar has it's own press (Anne Archer Butcher). So do the Latter Day Saints (Jeff Olsen). And there are a number of Christian publishers (Mary Neal).

Kenneth Ring's paper mentions NDE researchers who purposefully (and openly admitted to doing so) changed data in their work to support their religious POV. That's really scary stuff. The fact that it has happened before means it could still be occurring. I know of a book in progress on NDE research in which one of the authors wanted to leave out the relevant contributions of a scientist who's world view he didn't like. That isn't how a literature review for scientific work is supposed to be done.

So we have this very important area of research being undermined by all of these outside groups like Eckankar, as well as by the religious leanings of the researchers themselves.
 
Last edited:
#32
I'm a member of a local spiritual group, it's run by eckankar followers, a man and wife. There are always pamphlets and stuff available and they always mention eckankar in the intro, but that aside I really can only say nice things about them. The thing is, if they were any bit pushy about joining then I would stop going. I am instinctively nervous of any such 'religions' or 'cults' or whatever. When I realised that they may have 'other agendas' I researched Eck and didn't like what I read.
There is a local IANDS group starting up in my area. So far we've just "met" online. When I mentioned concerns about Eck, one person (who said she wasn't actually an Eck member, but that she really liked Eck) told me that the local Eckankar church is much nicer than other ones were and that I shouldn't be so quick to dismiss them because they are lovely people. Then she told me how much she loved my informative emails, loved everything about me and went on to mention how much she wanted to meet me in person (because she knew she would just love me, of course). So I've cut all ties with that group. (The love bombing was pretty obvious.)

Oh yeah, she also mentioned that she was a lawyer. Just in case I needed to know that.
 
Last edited:
#33
There is a local IANDS group starting up in my area. So far we've just "met" online. When I mentioned concerns about Eck, one person (who said she wasn't actually an Eck member, but that she really liked Eck) told me that the local Eckankar church is much nicer than other ones were and that I shouldn't be so quick to dismiss them because they are lovely people. Then she told me how much she loved my informative emails, loved everything about me and went on to mention how much she wanted to meet me in person (because she knew she would just love me, of course). So I've cut all ties with that group. (The love bombing was pretty obvious.)

Oh yeah, she also mentioned that she was a lawyer. Just in case I needed to know that.
That's a great post, K9. I hate all that kissy, lovey dovey nonsense.
 
#34
I think neutrality is a double edged sword. It can cover up a laziness of thinking and a cowardness to act. It sounds good in principle, but being truly neutral is a skill that requires interaction with the pros and cons of every issue. It is the expression of a more evolved perspective, not the ignorance of the facts. It does not mean anything goes and a line still needs to be drawn somewhere.

It would have been nice to hear the considerations IANDS has made before associating themselves with a member of Eckankar, and how having her on the board could taint how the organization is perceived. I did not get a sense that this discourse happened in the organization. All we kept hearing is that if Alex would read the book of Anne Archer Butcher, he would understand. Understand what?

NDEs are a spiritual experience and because of it, IANDS should consider addressing this subject up front and center. What their position is in regards to religious and spiritual affiliations, why, and disclose any such affiliations of their board members. Anne Archer Butcher is not even listed as a board member on their website. Did this appointment just happen within the last two weeks?
 
Last edited:
#35
I think neutrality is a double edged sword. It can cover up a laziness of thinking and a cowardness to act. It sounds good in principle, but being truly neutral is a skill that requires interaction with the pros and cons of every issue. It is the expression of a more evolved perspective, not the ignorance of the facts. It does not mean anything goes and a line still needs to be drawn somewhere.
You are correct. I don't have an opinion about Eckankar or IANDS. I was really just playing devil's advocate because I think people paint with a pretty broad brush when they start calling something a cult.
 
#36
You are correct. I don't have an opinion about Eckankar or IANDS. I was really just playing devil's advocate because I think people paint with a pretty broad brush when they start calling something a cult.
Yeah, I kind of figured that. By the way I liked your link on Ghandi. I did not know that.
 

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#37
But I don't really see the tenants of Eckenkar as radically different from the tenants of The Monroe Institute, for example. Both groups are non-profit. Both make implicit promises about where their practices lead you. One group styles itself as a "religion" and the other group styles itself as secular.
F, you're playing devil's advocate, and advise against black-and-white thinking, and that's cool.

I also tend to think a lot of Eckenkar folk are probably lovely people without an agenda. But, as some people have already alluded to, just a little cursory research online into Eck does reveal a dark side about this institution, à la Scientology. And doing that reveals that it's a cult that can't be compared in any way with The Monroe Institute, or most major established religions.

Yes, there is the subject of whether the philosophical-religious foundation is bullshit, a scam, a hoax, etc. That's obviously the case with Eck and that's one thing. But the other - much scarier and problematic - thing is those elements that go with the nature of a cult: mind control, suppression of doubt and dissent, manipulation, etc. And this is the aspect that Robert Mays seems to be unaware of. (See here for a characteristics of what makes a cult: http://www.icsahome.com/articles/characteristics )

K9 posted earlier this eye-opening experience of mind-control through Eck in the Cultic Studies Review:
Perhaps "mildly dangerous" refers to the kind of traumatic mind-control reportedly employed by Eckankar as related in this article from the Cultic Studies Review:
http://www.colleenrussellmft.com/To...genicBeliefsThroughTheProcessofActing.en.html[/MEDIA]
Here are just a few more revealing links about Eck, that at the very least should cause the raising of eyebrows:

http://caic.org.au/eastern/eck/subtle.htm
http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/eckankarsurvivors/eckankartruth.html
http://worldcultwatch.org/eckankar-a-scientology-clone/


One forum member here revealed something that happened recently that in itself is just a little detail but to me is a potential marker for deception in the name of recruitment. The podcast mentioned Linda Anderson as another NDEr who is an Eckankar clergy member who has participated in IANDS events.

In a recent episode of the IANDS-sponsored NDE Radio podcast with Lee Witting, Linda Anderson was interviewed. The topic was "Animals and the Afterlife", as Linda has written books about the spiritual life of animals. At the end of the interview, Lee Witting asks her where people can go to find out more. Given the topic of the interview, and Witting's specific question, you would expect her to send people to her personal website (www.angelanimals.net), which lists and describes nine such books written by her. But instead she gives the URL of Eckankar - and the site doesn't even actually list any of her animal books!

The podcast in question
http://www.talkzone.com/episodes/204/NDE083115.html

The transcript for this part of the interview (starts at 29:38)

Lee: Linda, we're unfortunately out of time. How can listeners find out more about your books and research into the spiritual life of animals?

Linda: Well, one of the best places to go, especially for people who have had near-death experiences or out-of-body experiences -- if you're looking for validation of your spiritual experiences -- is eckankar.org [then she spells it out]. And you can click on the book section, if you want to, and look at all the different books that are available, and just kinda browse through the website, and just kinda get an idea about, you know, some of the things that are out there, that maybe are a bit beyond what you've seen before, but there may be bits and pieces of it that just fit perfectly for you and really give you a lot of comfort and a lot of hope.


Lee: And I imagine your books are there as well.

Linda: Uh, 35 Golden Keys to Who You Are & Why You're Here is there, yes.
 
Last edited:
#38
Perhaps I'm in the minority here but I think Alex gave Robert a really hard time here but he (Robert) came out admirably.
Here we have an organisation making a scientific study of a phenomena which does not choose to manifest according to one's belief - although I have always suspected folks' beliefs may influence what they experience or simply their interpretation of it.
How scientific is it to pick and choose between the experiencers based on opinions about the spiritual path they've chosen?
Would Alex prefer that IANDS keeps a list of NDE experiencers NOT to study based on their religions, so as not to 'taint' the science?
To do that you'd have to define 'respectable' religions, which in my opinion are few if indeed any.
I have known people who have been into Eckankar who probably knew nothing of its alleged dodgy background but simply liked its emphasis on consciousness and astral travel.
I see no reason, if they happened to have an NDE, why their experience would not be as valid to study as that of a Christian, Mormon, Satanist, Scientologist or even - to use a category bizarrely inserted by Alex - a Holocaust denier
If science studies wildlife it doesn't pick and choose between nice and nasty animals - and NDE science shouldn't do similarly with experiencers, be they Eckankar followers or criminals.
The evidence is, as was mentioned in this interview, that meeting recognised religious figures in NDEs is a minority experience - possibly linked to the religious beliefs of the participants.
But how would we ever know that, if we had excluded experiencers because we disagree with their belief system which we think might be 'culty' or dangerous.
In my opinion most religions preaching separation and a hell for non-believers, are dangerous!
Where the line must be drawn, I do agree, is that IANDS should never be used as a platform to preach religious dogma. If that has been done, as some posters have claimed above, then it is wrong.
But Robert Mays in the interview denied this.
It's a pity if this has been happening that Alex didn't challenge him with it giving specific examples.
 
Last edited:
#40
Painting pictures and writing fiction are not the same as claiming you have special authority or connection to God and insight into the nature of reality itself.
Maybe so, maybe not. But I do think that the idea of authority does not deserve to be placed side-by-side with the idea of having insight. Seeking to control is perhaps as far from being insightful as one can get. I'm not particularly trying to make any point here, just thinking out loud as it were. I think something touched a nerve in me as I've spent some time recently studying painting.
 
Top